Nicaraguan Human Rights Advocate Asks British Parliament to Help Release Bishop Álvarez

One of the topics discussed was a proposal to establish a special office of the British government to advocate for political prisoners around the world.

Bishop Rolando Álvarez of Matalgalpa, Nicaragua.
Bishop Rolando Álvarez of Matalgalpa, Nicaragua. (photo: Archdiocese of Managua)

The president of the Nicaragua Freedom Foundation and former Nicaraguan presidential candidate Félix Maradiaga recently visited the British Parliament and asked its members for support in freeing Nicaragua’s political prisoners, including the bishop of Matagalpa, Rolando Álvarez, an outspoken defender of human rights.

Maradiaga’s visit to England occurs just one day after exiled Nicaraguan Bishop Silvio Báez received an award from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) in Washington, D.C., where the prelate also reiterated his call for the dictatorship of President Daniel Ortega to release Álvarez, unjustly imprisoned for being a “traitor to the homeland.”

The former presidential candidate told ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner, that during his visit to the British Parliament he advocated for all Nicaraguan political prisoners. “We haven’t forgotten anyone,” he stressed.

Madariaga was received by members of the liberal bloc in the House of Lords, such as Jeremy Purvis and John Thomas Alderdice, to whom he explained “the situation of political prisoners in Nicaragua and discussed the need to impose more severe sanctions on those who commit crimes against humanity and acts of corruption,” according to a release sent to ACI Prensa.

One of the topics discussed was a proposal to establish a special office of the British government to advocate for political prisoners around the world as well as the importance of democracies collaborating with one another to confront dictatorships such as Nicaragua, “Russia, China, and Iran.”

Maradiaga concluded by “reaffirming the commitment to work tirelessly until we achieve the freedom and justice that the Nicaraguan people deserve.”

Bishop Álvarez

Beginning Aug. 4, 2022, Rolando Álvarez, the bishop of Matagalpa and the apostolic administrator of Estelí in Nicaragua, was prevented from leaving his residence by the Nicaraguan police.

Two weeks later in the middle of the night, the police broke into the residence, abducted him, and took him to Managua, where he was held under house arrest. After a trial plagued by irregularities, on Feb. 10 of this year, he was sentenced to 26 years and four months in prison, accused of being a “traitor to the homeland.”

A day earlier, the bishop had refused to be part of the 222 former political prisoners who were stripped of their Nicaraguan citizenship and deported to the United States in a deal between the Ortega government and the U.S. State Department.

In July, the prelate was temporarily taken from “La Modelo” prison, where he is serving his sentence, although he remained in police custody. Negotiations for his release failed and he was returned to prison.

An image of Bishop Rolando Alvarez is pinned to a robe on a statue of Jesus Christ at the Cathedral in Matagalpa, Nicaragua, Friday, Aug. 19, 2022.

Standing Up for Nicaragua

A NOTE FROM THE PUBLISHER: As the Ortega regime attempts to dismantle Catholicism in the country, Bishop Rolando Álvarez’s imprisonment represents the pinnacle of why the world needs to care and governments need to act now.